Adventures in Home Wiring

Did I mention that when we got back from Kansas City the other night, we returned to a chilly house. Funny, that I didn’t really notice it till about 11. The time had reset on our thermostat, so I fixed that and got ready for bed. But something was nagging at me. The temp in the house was 54 and cool air was blowing out the vents.

After turning the furnace off and on and off and on again, I figured the best thing to do was to change the filter the first thing in the morning once the local everything-mart opened. My wife checked the vent, which wasn’t plugged with ice or drifting snow. A $200 service call later, it turned out we needed a new ignitor. But the house was warm again. For a little while.

That afternoon the old thermostat went blank. Not even a “battery low” warning like I saw last year. New batteries, same blank panel. So it was off the local hardware store to pick up a new thermostat.

Did you know that thermostat wires have been renamed, and that you can’t trust their colors anymore? I had no idea. I was amazed enough that the instructions said, “You can install this thermostat yourself in as little as thirty minutes!” The instruction booklet also referred me to a wiring diagram on page 12–which wasn’t there. An hour and a half later, I still must have had the wiring wrong, as it was still cool. It was also time to get to church for a family event.

Upon our return, I went back to work on the wiring, consulting a few sites after googling “thermostat wiring.” They taught me the shorthand, Rh, Rc, W/B and everything. They told me what it was all supposed to do. Still nothing. So I figured I’d call my brother to ask him what he knew about wiring.

“Two wires,” he said, looking at the back panel of his thermostat. “What’s so hard about that?” At that moment I noticed the wiring diagram on the last page of the manual. Page 48. Not 12. There was this loop from one juncture to another. I wonder, I thought aloud to my brother, if this is what that little wire was for, not the bold line drawn between adjacent R receptacles. Whoosh! went the furnace after I turned it on. “Thanks, bro, for letting me talk this out.” He laughed at me.

My wife wasn’t happy. How is it, she asked, that I help you for an hour and a half with no result? Then, in two minutes on the phone with your brother, you get enlightened and get it working.

Must be a guy thing.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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